I’m Elinor Hamilton and four years ago I lived with my wonderful husband Phil and our two beautiful boys, Alex and Ben. You’ve probably heard Phil’s voice before – he was the voiceover artist behind the familiar “mind the gap” announcement up and down the country’s railways. We had such a normal, happy life. I never saw it coming – the day our lives were turned upside down – the day our family would never be the same again.
In 2014, Phil was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and quite simply, my world fell apart. We found out that this type of cancer is one of the six deadliest in the world. Because oesophageal cancer is such a complicated and poorly-understood illness, Phil had a less than a 16% chance of overcoming the disease.
While Phil was undergoing months of chemotherapy and surgeries, life still carried on. The boys still had homework, housework didn’t stop, the dog needed to be walked and our business, which we created together, still needed to run. Throughout everything, Phil’s hope, positivity and good humour helped us face each and every day. Even when he was taken into palliative care.
In 2016, I lost my best friend and the love of my life. After his two-year fight, my brave, witty, and loving Phil passed away, and our two young boys lost their father. Even though at times the grief was overwhelming, I was determined to keep everything together for our boys. But sometimes life has other plans. Four months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Stage three – precisely the same as Phil’s. And for the second time, cancer turned my world upside-down. I had to manage early widowhood, two surgeries, and months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions without Phil to hold my hand or reassure the boys that mummy wasn’t going to die as well.
I’m one of the lucky ones – simply because I had breast cancer. I knew my survival chances were good. I knew that I’d be benefitting from years of research into breast cancer treatments. I felt lucky, because I’d seen how much worse it can be.
It’s thanks to research that our children didn’t need to face losing another parent. But, it saddens me deeply that research into Phil’s type of cancer is still so far behind.
Amazingly, I beat cancer; I’ve been given the all-clear and I feel healthy again. Throughout it all, I knew that Phil was always with me – he felt so close, even after his passing.
In his memory, and partly to prove to the boys that I’m okay and still have a long life ahead of me, I ran the London Marathon to raise funds for Worldwide Cancer Research, a charity that funds research into all types of cancer. I knew Phil would be with me all the way, announcing underground trains below the roads I ran along.
As someone who has benefitted from life-saving cancer research, I’m delighted to have been able to help ‘Phil the gaps’ in oesophageal cancer research. But many more gaps remain for other cancer types. That’s why Worldwide Cancer Research needs more kind-hearted supporters like you to give what you can if they are to find new, better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
With your support, there will be a day when cancer is no longer feared and there will be a day when no life is cut short by cancer. The more research you fund, the sooner that day will come. Without you, there would be no answers.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Elinor x
P.S. I’d love to hear your story! Please share your reasons for supporting Worldwide Cancer Research by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org